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Opening the conversation around finances

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Millennials and Money

Find out how the millennial generation approach key financial decisions and get advice on borrowing money.

Millennials and Money

The behaviour and attitudes of Millennials – sometimes known as Generation Y – are always a hot topic. Why? Because these are people born late in the 20th Century, becoming adults in the new millennium and growing up with the technology that now shapes our world.

When it comes to finances, it’s often said that Millennials are the first generation that will be poorer than their parents – facing unprecedented challenges in areas such as housing and education.

Our Survey

All this means there are significant differences between them and previous generations. So we thought we’d take a closer look at one aspect of their lives – their attitudes to borrowing money.

We carried out our own survey to find out more. Our questions focussed on their money borrowing habits for big events (such as Christmas), and looked at how comfortable they are talking about their finances.

Is Borrowing Money Common?

Firstly, we wanted to find out how common it is for Millennials to borrow money to get them through certain high-spending times of the year.

Looking back at Christmas 2017, our study revealed that 27% of millennials had planned to borrow money to help with their festive spending. But when asked if they’ve ever had to borrow money over any previous festive season, this rose to 48%.

This could mean one of two things:

• they might underestimate the cost of Christmas each year

• or that they were in a worse financial position previously than they are now.

Age Differences

The definition of Millennials covers a wide age-range, so we took a more detailed look at the figures.

We found that 52% of 25-34-year-olds have borrowed at Christmas, compared to only 43% of 18-24-year-olds. It’s likely that older Millennials have left home and are homeowners or renting. This obviously takes up a sizeable chunk of their monthly income, making Christmas (indeed any high-spending time of year) even more of a squeeze.

Saying NO to FOMO

We also asked our audience if they would borrow money to avoid missing an event they really wanted to go to, 41% of 18-24-year-olds said they would, and so did 35% of 25-34-year-olds.

From this, we can see that borrowing money to pay for experiences is now common behaviour for Millennials, especially the younger members of the group.

How Are They Borrowing?

We saw that borrowing money for the short-term is common, so asked about their preferred methods. The answers revealed some interesting differences between younger and older Millennials.

For the 18-24s, 75% turned to family when borrowing money – with fewer using credit cards (23%), short-term loans (21%), or overdrafts (23%).

In contrast, among the 25-34s, 51% turned to family when borrowing money. But they were also more likely to use credit options such as credit cards (48%), short-term loans (31%), and overdrafts (31%).


Hidden debt

In terms of attitude, our study revealed a worrying trend – 42% of our respondents have hidden debt from their loved ones. Additionally, 1 in 3 said they’re afraid that their partner, friends, or family would find out about their debt.

Why is this a concern? Because when people borrow money it’s important they get proper advice and support – even if this is just speaking to those closest to them. Sometimes situations can seem hopeless when faced alone, so it’s important to get different perspectives and share experiences.

Seeking help

If Millennials are hiding their money woes from loved ones, would they be more comfortable speaking to a professional?

The answer appears to be no. Only 41% said they would feel comfortable asking for financial help or support online. Interestingly, this figure rose to 55% when asked if they would be comfortable to seek mental health support online.

Opening the conversation

In recent years, attitudes to many personal issues have been transformed. Initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week, and social media-driven campaigns such as #metoo, encourage open discussion of previously suppressed issues.

Millennials need to think of financial support and advice as just as important. The conversation around finances needs to be much more open.


As we can see, borrowing money as short-term loans is common among Millennials. Given that the unique financial pressures they experience are here to stay, it’s important we encourage an open, honest and on-going conversation around the issues of money management in particular.

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Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Representative example: APR 1270% if borrowing £400 for 4 months. Interest rate: 292% p.a. (fixed). Total amount repayable: £665.48 by four instalments of £166.37. Maximum representative APR: 1604% if full loan repaid after 7 days.